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In the first half of 2001 Lafayette SkyWarn began a major change. The change allows anyone to help their community without leaving their home. As is common in a lot of the country, SkyWarn had been an Ham Radio only group. The members used Amateur Radio to communicate. The Lafayette SkyWarn Group decided to change its structure to allow anyone to fully participate in the program. Under the new program, anyone with a telephone can participate. And, it's fully flexible. You can use your home phone, your cell phone, or your radio phone to communicate with the SkyWarn group.
The local SKYWARN group is sponsored by the Lafayette City-Parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (LFT OHS&EP). Nationwide, SKYWARN is a plan sponsored by the National Weather Service (NWS), using volunteer weather observers trained by NWS for reporting destructive thunderstorms or other severe, unusual, or hazardous weather conditions.
As mentioned above, SkyWarn members are frequently Ham Radio operators. If you are a Ham (or want to become a Ham), the 537 System is available. It is a unique repeater in this area that can provide communications for SkyWarn. But, with the new Lafayette SkyWarn design, you don't need to be a HAM. All you need is a telephone.
Additional SkyWarn information includes a peek at new ideas and the home page from a major metro SkyWarn group.
Have you seen the movie 'Twister'? Do you want to be a storm chaser? That's NOT what SkyWarn is about. But you can read about the considerations necessary to leave your home during severe weather by clicking here.
The SkyWarn National Homepage page contains references to everything SkyWarn. But, the Tornado Project Online has some of the best tornado pictures.
SkyWarn spotters take part in training classes to learn about severe weather. The latest and greatest is the FEMA Course IS-271. Not only will you learn about Anticipating Hazardous Weather and Community Risk, but you will be able to take a short test and receive a Certificate of Achivement from FEMA.
The link to the Spotters Guide in this section does not take the place of training, but it gives you an overview of what spotters learn. The links are a courtesy of the National Weather Service in Norman, OK. Click to see the Spotters Field Guide. The Advanced Severe Storm Spotters Guide is also available.
Do you have a weather radio? Here is access to technical information and an interactive map of NOAA Weather Radio Transmitter Sites and Frequencies. It includes Louisiana and surrounding transmitters.
NEXRAD is a monumental improvement over the previous generation of weather radars. You need to know how to read the NEXRAD images to make full use of the information. Here is a Radar Tutorial so you can get the most from NEXRAD images.
Maybe you are just starting out and would like a Basic Weather Tutorial from the Navy. How about a USA Today article on Storm Systems and Fronts. Or, maybe you need a cloud tutorial. We also have a conversion guide for temperature and pressure units, also included is a standard altitude - temperature - pressure table. You need to know more about Lightning? We have Frequently Asked Questions about Lightning.
Everyone needs to play it safe! Hey, you are dealing with Mother Nature, and she is capable of hurting you. Please review Project Safeside to keep you ahead of the storm.
And for those who like to do it by the book, you can access the Federal Meteorological Handbook #1 to see the nitty-gritty details of weather (U.S. Government style).
Do you need a copy of the Lafayette SkyWarn Manual? NOTICE: THIS MANUAL HAS NOT BEEN UPDATE TO THE NEW OPERATION !! If you click on the link you can access our manual in PDF format. It is large (about 3 to 4 MB) and will take a while to download the 105 pages of information.
The National Weather Service has offices at many locations around the country. The NWS office that serves Lafayette Parish is near Lake Charles Louisiana. The doppler radar, called NEXRAD (NEXt generation RADar) is located in Calcasieu Parish. NEXRAD was designed to improve detection of severe storms so that the NWS can provide more accurate and timely warnings to the public.
SKYWARN is an integral part of this detection and warning process. NEXRAD will help locate and track potentially severe and dangerous storms, but it is SKYWARN spotters that report what the storm is actually doing (trees blown down, a tornado on the ground, flood waters washing out a bridge, a dangerous glaze of ice on roads and wires). SKYWARN spotters are trained to spot tornadoes, funnel clouds, and severe thunderstorms. They are told how to report hail, strong winds, heavy rain, floods, and snow. Forecasters combine information from spotters with that of radar, satellite and other tools. This information is then used to provide appropriate warnings for communities downstream from the storm and to keep people informed about what is happening and what steps they may need to take to protect themselves.